“Will you shut that door!
“How many times do I have to say it?
“You’d think we were trying to heat the whole world the way you leave the doors open, letting all the warm air out.”
Jimmy ran over to the front door and pushed it closed with a house-jarring slam.
“Now, what’re you trying to do? Wake up the baby?”
Jimmy was always either leaving the door open or slamming it shut. There were no inbetweens and it never failed to get on Mama’s nerves.
She could count the nickles and dimes and quarters of heat whooshing out of the front door or back door or side door of the house. Things were tight around Christmas every year, but this year things were especially tight, with Papa being laid off again and it taking a whole extra week to get unemployment this time. Mama tried to keep the heat down as much as possible to save as much money as she could, but then Jimmy goes and wastes all her efforts by leaving the doors open.
But Jimmy was a good kid most of the rest of the time. A bit absent minded. It made Mama worried sometimes. He always seemed to be thinking of something else, instead of what he was supposed to be thinking about or doing. Mama figured that was why his teacher wanted to talk with her about him; probably not turning in his homework. She’d find papers from school crumpled up in his pockets when she went through the laundry on Monday mornings. Why didn’t she make him turn out his pockets every day when he got home from school? A good idea, I’ll have to remember that, she thought. But sheesh, it’s just another thing for me to remember.
As the days before Christmas became fewer, the door seemed to be left open more often. Mama would feel the touch of coldness on the back of a bare leg or arm or cheek and immediately know one of the doors was swinging on its hinges.
On Christmas Eve, Mama could hardly turn around without finding at least one of the doors open. Jimmy was hardly around to be seen, running around outside all day.
It was well after dinner before she caught him red-handed.
“What in the world are you doing? Were you born in a barn, leaving doors open like that?
“Are you trying to torment me or something? I’ve had enough of this! Shut that door! This instant!”
Jimmy went to the door and put his hand on the knob, but he didn’t close it. He just stood there, looking out the door.
“Close. That. Door,” she said, biting off each word as she said them.
Jimmy looked back at Mama. His face had gone all funny, all squinched up like he might cry.
“What’s wrong, Jimmy? Close the door and come here, boy-boy. Are you afraid of something?”
“I can’t, Mama. I can’t close it.”
“What do you mean, you can’t close it.”
“I can’t close the door. Born in a barn.”
“Oh, don’t be such a goofball! Close the door and come here.”
“No. Born in a barn. Jesus. He was born in a barn.
“All the doors were closed. So, he had to be born in a barn.
“Mrs. Dori in Sunday school said that Jesus stands at the door and knocks and wants to come in. Mama, I can’t close the door. What if Jesus wants to come in?”
“Jimmy, I think Mrs. Dori means the door of your heart. Jesus wants to come inside of you, not our house.”
“You sometimes ask me if I want to heat up the whole world.”
“I say that sometimes. Yes.”
“I do. I want to warm up the whole world. And I think Jesus does, too.”
“We can get kinda cold sometimes, can’t we Jimmy?”
“Yeah, Mama. Maybe Jesus could turn on some kind of super heater and make everyone warm. Wouldn’t that be cool? A super blasting heater so that no one is ever cold.”
“That would be the coolest thing ever,” Mama said. “That would be super-awesome. But can we close the door now? It’s getting pretty cold in here.”
“Just a little bit longer, OK, Mama? I’m helping Jesus warm up the world.”
“OK. One more minute. And then come here and warm me up with one of your super-snuggles.”